Ex-president afraid of Armenian claims on Georgian land
Georgia, Tbilisi, July 11 / Trend N.Kirtzkhalia /
Former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze predicts serious confrontation between the church and Georgian authorities over the adoption of a bill "On granting status of subject of public law to religious organizations" by the Parliament.
"With this decision the parliament and president opposed the Patriarchate of Georgia," Shevardnadze said in an interview with the Georgian weekly "Asaval-Dasavali." He further commented that the decision "will bring negative results."
He emphasized that during his presidency in 2002, the Georgian Orthodox Church signed a concordat with the state that highlighted its special role. "Other confessions have become the subjects of private law, which they dislike, as it does not give them the right to be the official religions," Shevardnadze added.
He said the Parliament should apologize to the Patriarch Ilia II, whom it had not seen "so disturbed."
"I intend to meet the Patriarch himself and apologize for the parliamentarians ,who do not know what they do," he said. Shevardnadze advised authorities to abolish the new law.
He said the points reflected in the law can lead to an emergence of Armenian claims, not only for Georgian churches, but also for territory. "Hopefully, this will not happen because there are smart people who know that Georgia has rescued them many times, and now Armenians need [the help] as they need air," he said.
Georgian Parliament amended the Civil Code during the first reading in early July. The Civil Code gives the five religious groups the status of a legal public entity, Novosti-Georgia reported.
MPs voted for the amendments at a special session of the parliament.
The status of a legal public legal are assigned specifically to the Armenian Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Muslim community, the Jewish community, and the Baptist church in Georgia.
The opposition faction "Christian Democrats" spoke against the bill.